Activity: 20mins: Affordances: Tools in use

In this activity you will explore the 'affordances' (Gibson, 1977) of one or more technological...

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Rebecca Galley
25 June 2010

In this activity you will explore the 'affordances' (Gibson, 1977) of one or more technological tools. You will make judgements about the use of the tools based on their positive and negative affordances, and use this as a means of choosing an appropriate tool for your purpose. This activity can be completed on paper (as suggested here) or using CompendiumLD (go to tools - open stencil - approaches to LD. Drag the tool and activity affordances nodes into your workspace. Click on them to enter into the activity)

What you need

  1. A piece A3 paper
  2. At least one page of CompendiumLD affordances stickers. You may need more if you decide to expore several tools. (See embedded .pdf doc below. This can be downloaded from SlideShare)
  3. A course or module to map out (real or scenario)
  4. Pens


From the affordances sticker sheet, choose a task, and then up to three tools you think might fit with the task. Cut these out first and stick the activity in the centre of your paper and the tools around the outside – leaving plenty of room around them. Then cut out all the affordances. Cluster around each tool the +ve affordances you think it has. Then label with potential –ve aspects or constraints. Use the list given or add your own (10 mins per tool)


Consider the following questions and add to the discussion below:

  1. How useful do you find this activity in supporting thinking and discussion around your choice of technological tools?
  2. Do others judge the affordances of tools in the same way as you do? If not what might account for these differences?
  3. Are there any other +ve or –ve affordances you think should be added to the list? (10 mins)

This activity format is based on the e-tivity format developed by the Adelie Project Team working on the Carpe Diem project.

Conole, G. & Dyke, M. (2004) 'What are the affordances of information and communication technologies?' ALT-J, 12 (2), 113-124.

Gibson, J. (1977), The Theory of Affordances. In Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing, Eds. Robert Shaw and John Bransford

Extra content

Embedded Content

Affordances stickers

Affordances stickers

added by Rebecca Galley


Maria Papaefthimiou
12:50pm 5 July 2010

Some key issues that teams discussed were: (July 2010):

- institutional supported tools are not always compatible with what students are using

- assumptions about student access to technology need to be revisited

-important to know what technological infrastructure is supported by the institution

-technological infrastructure not always able to support innovation

-shared understanding of the terms used is important to be clarified in the beginning. (clarity about terminology used: some found the terminology on the workshop material was not clear)

Nicola Langton
3:05pm 5 July 2010 (Edited 2:17pm 6 July 2010)

potentially a great activity and useful tool

Isabella Brown
7:31pm 11 June 2011

I don't think we did this activity in this format for the June 2011 workshop?

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